Hodge: WAPA Cannot Waive Christiansted Bills

5
80

Sen. .Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O'Reilly The V.I. Water and Power Authority has rejected a request from Sen. Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly to waive one month of electrical bills for Christiansted businesses.

WAPA said doing so would put bonds at risk of default and unfairly shift the costs to other ratepayers.

On Jan. 18, O’Reilly wrote a letter to the WAPA asking it to give businesses in Christiansted a month of free electricity. In the letter, O’Reilly argued that the businesses have seen reduced activity because roads were blocked off at times for WAPA crews doing trenching work to place power lines underground.

"Our office continues to receive calls and emails from downtown Christiansted business owners whose operation is negatively impacted by the ongoing construction," O’Reilly said. "We understand … that postponement of the construction is impossible because further delays would result in the loss of FEMA funds," she said, adding that she appreciates WAPA’s zeal to complete the work quickly.

But if businesses close as a result of the loss of business, WAPA will lose ratepayers and revenue too, she said.

"Clearly you too have heard from business owners who maintain that the ongoing construction has resulted in lower cash receipts even during the holiday season. Equally disturbing is the fact that this is the period in which St. Croix enjoys visitors arriving both by plane and cruise ships," O’Reilly continued.

As an example, she cited an unnamed business owner who "reported making a paltry $100 in sales yesterday" (Jan. 17). "His electrical bill is $2,000 per month. Imagine trying to stay in business under these conditions," she said. WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr.

"While I understand the significance of this project, I urge you to consider the impact the project has had on businesses and explore ways to support them. I firmly believe that waiving one month of electricity in exchange for the inconvenience and loss of income is a reasonable tradeoff," she concluded.

WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. denied the request in a letter Wednesday, saying it would force WAPA to shift the cost to other ratepayers, which it cannot do without the approval of the V.I. Public Services Commission. And doing so would take revenue away that is legally pledged as security for bonds, putting WAPA at risk of default, he said.

"Unfortunately, the Authority is not in a position to consider this request," Hodge said in a letter to O’Reilly. Bonds are "the primary source of funding for the majority of the Authority’s capital projects," he said. "When the Authority issues bonds, it pledges as the source of repayment for the bonds the revenues it derives from its water and electric services. As a result, the bond indentures prohibit the Authority from providing ‘free service.’"

Hodge said he appreciates the difficulty that road work creates for Christiansted businesses.

"Regrettably, there is never a good time to perform a project such as this, particularly in the midst of a business district," he wrote.

5 COMMENTS

  1. RLMAO @ Chilliwest’s comment… To be honest, I think she should’ve been courageous and direct by letting him know time for him to take a huge pay-cut, and send him on his way…

  2. If the Senate reduces their salaries back to the pre bill 6901 and Hodges salary, as well, they can pay for “free service” for those businesses.
    I have to ask, “What about the rest of us?”
    Do we deserve to continue to be at the mercy of WAPA’s ever increasing LEAC?

    If Nelly wants to do something, then get it together with a competent “energy crisis” plan which will stop the downhill slide that WAPA and our government have continued to promote for decades due to their ineptitude.

  3. Alana, you need to also add that they do away with all pensions for elected official status past and present as well ass appointed official status as necessary…

    I also feel that their vehicular perks should be done away with too, the state of Massachusetts if I’m not mistaken doesn’t give their senate vehicles to drive around in and look how big it is compared to the territory…

    But, I strongly feel that it is pure foolish and even outright criminal to pay a former governor, lt. governor, senator, their spouses and to some extent appointed officials a pension… It’s like you’re paying for a former elected or appointed offical as if they were still seated in office…

    If they want a pension get one like everyone else out here, either do it yourself, work for a company long enough to be granted one or a combination of both, but NOT off of the backs off people who have to worry about their own…

    As I’ve said before, if you’re going to run for elected office, then bloody make sure you’ve got your financials in order and don’t burden the people with your retirement goals and/or aspirations…

    The LEAC is bull and it is bull because it’s the government’s dirty way of making you pay for the bill(s) it refuses to pay…

    Once the government has leaders within it who will say enough is enough, and publicly denounce placing the burden of their recklessness upon good hardworking people, you will see the LEAC disappear…

    As for the “energy crisis”, I would think Mr. Hugo the Hedgehog would be able to come up with a solid one with all of his “experience” and such… Just dragging along while others stateside and even overseas are running hand and foot to update their power distribution infrastructure…

    Mmm, mmm, mmm…

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Support the VI Source

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall - we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. Our sites are more popular than ever, but advertising revenues are falling - so you can see why we could use your help. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. If everybody who appreciates our reporting efforts were to help fund it for as little as $1, our future would be much more secure. Thanks in advance for your support!